The first, established in 2016, examined the historic question of the role of deaconesses in the early Church but did not reach a consensus.
He instituted a second commission in 2020, following discussion of the female diaconate during the 2019 Amazon synod.
He changed Church law in January 2021 so that women can be formally instituted to the lay ministries of lector and acolyte.
The Holy See press office said on Wednesday that the cardinal advisers also spoke about the “necessary conversion” required for members of the Catholic Church to embrace the idea of synodality.
“After a conversation in which the various cardinals spoke about the socio-political and ecclesial situation in their regions of origin, they reflected on the theme of synodality as a process of listening and discernment at the heart of the Church’s identity and the necessary conversion that this requires of clergy and laity,” the press office noted.
The group of cardinal advisers, sometimes referred to as the C9 because it previously had nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013, to “assist him in the governance of the universal Church,” as well as to revise the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.
At one of the council’s first meetings, it was decided that projected revisions to Pastor bonus would be substantial enough to warrant an entirely new constitution.
The cardinals have been working on drafting and revising the text since 2014. In an interview last September, Pope Francis suggested that the document was in its final stages, but the Vatican has given no projected date for the constitution’s publication and it was not mentioned in Wednesday’s communique.
In addition to Germany’s Cardinal Marx, Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, U.S. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, and Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu took part in the Feb. 21-23 meeting at the Casa Santa Marta, the pope’s residence.
They were joined by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, former president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and Bishop Marco Mellino, secretary of the Council of Cardinals.
The Holy See press office said that the cardinals and pope also discussed “the diplomatic service of the Holy See,” including “the role and activity of nuncios in the current political and ecclesial framework.”
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The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals is scheduled for April.